Thoughts for 2016 design and ux

Thoughts for 2016 design and ux

Is lots of articles on 2016 trends, but just giving my thoughts around. Don’t follow trends just because they’re the “hip” thing to do at the moment. Trends represent popular techniques for good reason, but make sure it’s best for your users. Providing an excellent user experience was always the point of great design.


Design for emotions

Good design makes people happy, which is an emotion. Bad design frustrates people, which is also an emotion. Good visual design can make us overlook flaws in the way attractive things behave, much as we do with people.


We’re changing. Our relationships online and in real life are shifting as we become more public with our private lives.
When we think something is cute, why do we feel that way? What is “cute”? What is it inside of all of us that is inexorably drawn to puppies, stuffed animals, and garden gnomes?


We tend to label the people we’re designing for as “users,” but I fear the term is distancing and a little too clinical. It removes us from them, creating a subconscious, indirect “us vs. them” attitude. While this can have varying consequences in social situations, designers can take advantage of this to make compelling first impressions with their products.


Listen and learn.
Brands must be able to listen to the messages they are being sent, either explicitly or implicitly. At a minimum, design to show you have heard.

Designing beyond apps and screens

Apps and the development of other new ways to deliver interactions via screens have been hot design trends for the past several years. But driven in part by consumer demand from increasingly tech-savvy users, designers are already thinking past apps and screens.


Smartwatches. Tons of them. Everywhere. If only we had more than two wrists… 2015 was all about smartwatches and we will probably keep hearing about them for a while. But what is the problem they are trying to solve?


We don’t need more things and objects to carry around. We need to make what we already use, smarter. Companies are now realizing there’s a certain pace in which people are willing to accept cultural and individual behavior shifts — and that understanding that pace might be crucial for the success of a new product.

Rich Animations

Animations are being used more and more to enhance a site’s storytelling, making the experience more interactive and entertaining. However, you can’t just stick animation in anywhere. Consider carefully whether it adds to your site’s story elements and personality. Animations can be thought of in terms of two groups:


Large scale animations. These are used as a primary interaction tool have more impact on users and include effects like parallax scrolling and pop-up notifications.


Small scale animations. These include spinners, hover tools and loading bars, and don’t require any user input.


(Image credit: Christopher Ingraham on Twitter)


Each one done without a second thought. It’s likely that you started your day with a micro-interaction. By turning off the alarm on your mobile phone, you engaged with a user interface in a single moment. And more and more of these are baked into the apps and devices we use.


Micro-interactions tend to do, or help you do:
  1. Communicate a status or bit of feedback
  2. See the result of an action
  3. Help the user manipulate something


Micro-interactions are a vital part of any app.
Micro-interactions are an important part of almost every digital design project. You’ll be hard-pressed to design a website or mobile app that does not include some element, or moment, that a user needs to interact with.


Each of these interaction types lead users to a path of more human-centered design. This concept of making devices more human-like in their moments is a key to adoption and usability.

Flat design

Minimalism has boomed in 2015 and will continue to go strong in 2016. It’s the perfect style for RWD: no clutter, focus on what’s important, clever use of generous white space. In other words: Less is more.


Long shadows. These bring more depth to flat designs.


Vibrant color schemes. Popular UI frameworks and templates have prompted many to begin using more vibrant colors in their designs.


Simple typography. Simple typefaces help to ensure that text remains legible and readable in flat design.


Ghost buttons. These allow for functionality without distracting from the UX and are often represented as outlined, clickable links that change when the user hovers over them.


Minimalism. Looks to cut down on the number of elements in order to create a fresh, uncluttered UI.

Less Rigid Grids

2016 will see more playful web layouts that deviate from a rigid grid design. Certainly, storytelling and high interactivity encourage this kind of soft rebellion against the classic grid.


Designing in modules and components instead of entire pages

Web design is moving toward modular and component design instead of mocking up entire layouts and comps for a particular web page. These components often involve designing how the search function will work, how the navigation will be laid out, etc.


We’ve matured into knowing that we have repeated elements on different screens, and that these elements need to be designed both so that they work independently but can still work with the rest of the site.


A good resource for this type of design is Brad Frost’s Atomic Web Design.

Rush for the Right Prototyping Tool

Prototyping tools have since then become an important piece of what we do — allowing us to document multiple states of a single screen, including animations, transitions and micro-interactions that were hard to represent through static documentation.


Naturally, companies that paid attention to that trend have started to build prototyping tools that would solve for that; and today we’re seeing a plethora of those tools coming to life, week after week. InVision, Marvel, Principle, Atomic, Sketch, Axure, Adobe Comet, you name it — they are essentially trying to solve the same problem through different perspectives.


Innovation just for innovation’s sake, like trying to create a completely disruptive navigation system for your website or app, might bring you some usability problems in the long term.

Have a wonderful week,
Marco Lopes

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